Caribbean tourism faces long road to recovery

Hurricane Maria leaves trail of devastation

The Caribbean is actually fast approaching tourism season. however This specific year, some of the islands may not see their vital economic lifeblood.

Several islands are still recovering through the one-two punch delivered by hurricanes Irma as well as also Maria, which razed buildings, knocked out communications as well as also killed dozens of people.

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of which’s still too early to know the full extent of the damage, said Justin Ram, the director of economics for the Caribbean Development Bank.

Ram said even a 1% drop in visitors could mean the region loses out on about $138 million those tourists might have otherwise spent. inside long term, of which could mean a $214 million hit to the region’s GDP.

“of which’s just through a 1% drop,” he said.

Related: How to rebuild an entire island after Hurricane Irma

There is actually some reason to be optimistic, said Hugh Riley, the secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization. About 75% of the region escaped the storms unscathed.

The airport on St. Martin, an island pummeled by Irma, reopened Tuesday. Local restaurants on Anguilla are taking business, too.

Similarly Jose Izquierdo, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, a public company of which markets as well as also regulates tourism on the island, says the territory is actually already rebuilding. San Juan’s airport as well as also cruise ports are operational, as well as also he expects many local hotels to start taking brand-new reservations.

Izquierdo said cruise liners like Royal Caribbean as well as also Princess Cruises are scheduling trips out of the harbor.

“of which’s a sign of which there’s some sense of normality to operations here in Puerto Rico,” he added.

While tourism operations may be reemerging, residents are still suffering.

Riley said some islanders are still without electricity or a viable banking system. Food, water as well as also even shelter can be scarce.

“They are still dealing with day-to-day real life survival as well as also nutrition experiences,” Riley said.

On the island of Dominica, roofs on at least 80% of the island’s buildings were torn off by Maria. Heavy rainwater made the asphalt roads crumble.

John Collin McIntyre, Dominica’s minister for planning, economic development as well as also investment, said he’s experienced of which devastation firsthand. He’s spoken to people on the island who have lost homes or family members as well as also are currently trying to recover as well as also rebuild. as well as also he said a crucial part of of which process will be figuring out how Dominica can find its economic footing.

The damage costs will almost certainly be enormous. A storm of which hit the island two years ago, called Erika, caused around $500 million in damage.

of which was a tropical storm, not a Category 5 hurricane. as well as also of which didn’t swallow the entire island, as Maria did.

McIntyre said Dominica could start welcoming tourists as early as January, three months after tourism season began.

After agriculture, tourism is actually one of the island’s most important industries. of which contributed about $180 million to Dominica’s economy last year, or about 34% of its GDP, according to the entire world Travel & Tourism Council.

of which’s just a sliver of what’s ultimately a huge economic driver for an entire region. The council reported of which 23 Caribbean nations as well as also territories raked in $56 billion through travel as well as also tourism last year, or about 15% of the area’s total GDP.

sy88pgw (brand-new York) First published October 15, 2017: 12:42 PM ET

Caribbean tourism faces long road to recovery

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